EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- This week, the City of Eau Claire is celebrating Creative Economy Week: a week to highlight the importance arts play in driving economic development. The first event of the week was a two-hour panel discussion held Saturday afternoon to showcase what the city and its leaders are doing to move forward with the creative economy.
Arts, music, and creativity are some of the most prevalent words associated with downtown Eau Claire. And rightly so. Mike Schatz, the City of Eau Claire’s Economic Development Director, says the creative economy is vital in the Chippewa Valley.
“It’s a $700 billion industry in the U.S,” Schatz said. “In Wisconsin alone, 91,000 people have salaries and wages in the $5 billion area.”
A two-hour panel discussion isn’t nearly enough time to talk about everything that’s happening with the arts in the area, but it’s a good start, Kristen Dexter, a soon-to-be local business owner, says.
“It’s really important to understand the economics behind this,” Dexter said. “People want to move where there are things to do. We’ll bring young families. It’s going reap rewards in the future.”
“The economic effects of arts on the local economy are pretty evident everywhere you look,” Nick Poss, the owner of the Eau Claire Music School, said. “To get people together to talk about it, to strategize, to plan for the future to make it sustainable – it’s very important to reaping the benefits of the great things that are happening.”
Schatz says the Confluence Arts Center going up in Eau Claire is a shining example of how people came together to support the arts. And not only do the local arts bring a large amount of tourism dollars, it brings people to the area permanently.
“There’s many examples of people who said we came here for the music concert, we came downtown to see what was up with the rest of the arts,” Schatz said. “We decided to move here. We’ve documented that it’s important to our overall economy.”
There will be other events scheduled throughout the week to showcase local art and what it does for the economy.